‘IW Talks to the Oscar 13′ Nominees’ is a daily series running through to this year’s Oscar ceremony (February 24) that features new or previously published interviews with some of this year’s nominees. Today, we’re running an interview with Live Action Short Film nominee Yan England of ‘Henry.’
Montreal-based Yan England will be making his way to the Oscars for his short film “Henry,” which was inspired by his late grandfather — who died three years ago of Alzheimer’s disease. England spoke to Indiewire about the film, finding out about his Oscar nod, and what’s next for him.
Where did you grow up and how did you get into filmmaking?
I grew up in Montreal, Canada. I started acting when I was 8 years old on different TV series and films in Canada. I’ve always been passionate about cinema. Every time I would get on a set I would sit by the director’s chair and observe how he would direct the actors, talk to his cinematographer, and adjust small details in a scene.
My idol has always been Charlie Chaplin. So I’ve always dreamed of acting and directing. 6 to 7 years ago a project that I was attached to as an actor got canceled. My mother than told me I should try to write and direct a short film. I jumped and after many months of hard work I would wrap my first short film called “MOI”.
Tell us about “Henry.” Why did you want to make this film, and how did it come together?
My short film “Henry” is a homage to my grandfather, my hero. I was inspired by him who developed Alzheimer’s disease and died three years ago at age 96. He had an amazing memory and remembered everything. When he turned 92, at some point I was having coffee with him and my mom… and he looked at us and he asked us if he had been a good man.
It took a year from the first day I started writing the script until the film was completely over. It was an amazing journey to write, produce and direct “Henry”.
What’s next for you? Where do you hope your career will evolve from here?
I would love to direct a feature film. I just love movies so much. Career wise, I hope to continue on doing both acting and directing. I am just so passionate about them both.
How did you find the Oscar nomination?
I was “live” on a radio station in Montreal where I am the morning man. We were following the nomination live on the web. Suddenly my mother, who was present with my entire family, yelled and cried. She showed me her iPad where the last name on the page was “Henry” by Yan England. I was so emotional, in shock with a mix of pure joy and happiness. It was surreal and it still is today. I will remember this amazing and beautiful moment for the rest of my life.
Whose your date to the Oscars? And who would you thank first if you won?
I am taking my mom to the Oscars. My parents have always been so supportive in my life. “Henry” is inspired by her father. If there was one person to thank first it would be my grandfather, Maurice England, the inspiration for “Henry”. Followed by my parents and my entire crew and actors.